Dylann Roof, the South Carolina native suspected of fatally shooting nine people at Charleston’s historic Emanuel AME Church, was charged with nine counts of murder, police confirmed Friday.
The 21-year-old was also charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, the New York Times reports. On Friday, South Carolina’s governor Nikki Haley called for the high school drop-out to face the death penalty.
“This is a state that is hurt by the fact that nine people innocently were killed,” Ms. Haley said, adding that the state “absolutely will want him to have the death penalty.
The governor, who spoke on NBC’s “Today” show, described Wednesday’s shooting rampage as “an absolute hate crime.”
“This is the worst hate that I’ve seen — and that the country has seen — in a long time,” she said. “We will fight this, and we will fight this as hard as we can.”
The Justice Department is exploring the possibility that the shooting spree was a hate crime. A cousin of victim Clementa Pinckney — who served as the pastor of the storied African-American church and a state senator — told NBC that a survivor of the shooting was kept alive to report Roof’s story. Roof reportedly told the survivor that Black people were taking over the world and needed to go.
Sources told NBC News Craig Melvin that Roof allegedly told police he almost didn’t go through with the massacre because “everyone was so nice.” In the end, Roof fatally shot eight people during the prayer meeting Wednesday night.
A ninth person died at a nearby hospital. You can find more information on the AME victims here.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Charleston during this difficult time.